Allan Kennedy Fake Center Deal

center Deal—-The Center Deal has a nearly mythical history, documented in a little-known article by Bruce Elliott and James Tuck in Saga magazine (March 1952, page 51). The article was titled "The Search for the Middle Deal." It recounted Dai Vernon's tenacious effort, throughout the 1930's, to track down a man rumored to deal from the Center of the deck. The man Vernon eventually found was a card cheat named Allen Kennedy who, Vernon maintained, taught his technique to him. More recently, Karl Johnson has revisited the subject in two interesting articles, "The Magician and the Cardsharp" (American Heritage, May 2001, page 56) and "Dai Vernon and His Quest for Allen Kennedy's Center Deal" (Genii, December 2001, Vol. 64, No. 12, page 28). To date, no properly detailed description of the Kennedy Deal has seen print, but Ross Bertram, Nelson Downs, Charlie Miller and Luis Zingone were all reputedly taught the technique by Vernon. (The description that appears in Ross Bertram's 1978 book, Magic and Methods of Ross Bertram, page 80, is, in my opinion, inadequate; and, though better, so is David Ben's description in the December 2001 issue of Genii, page 42.) The first additional methods, also probably attributable to Vernon, appear in Expert Card Technique (1940, page 23). Tony Kardyro offered a method he called the "Master Deal Supreme" (Kardyro's Kard Konjuring, 1955, page 1). This was followed by Mario's offerings in Seconds, Centers, Bottoms (1960, page 96) and "Special to the Expert" (a privately issued addendum to Seconds, Centers, Bottoms). (Mario states that he learned the Center Deal by watching Zingone on film. In spite of Mario's denial, some insisted he actually learned from Charlie Miller and that it became a source of friction between Miller and Vernon.) Mario added some additional thoughts on the subject in the March 1975 New Tops (Vol. 15, No. 3, page 28). Martin Nash further explored Mario's conceptual approach in Sleight Unseen (1979, page 322). Another, fairly obscure, version was contributed by the enigmatic Dom Paolino (Genii, Vol. 31, No. 2, October 1966, page 91). Fred Robinson of England is also rumored to have had a treatment that has received high praise from the few who witnessed it. Unless it is hidden away in some old issue of Abra or Pentagram, it has not seen print. Thanks to Bill Kalush, I have in recent years become fond of the Allan Ackerman Center Deal from his booklet, Here's My Card (1978, page 101).

The utility of the Center Deal for the card cheat is fairly apparent: It spares him the need to "beat the cut." This, however, has not served as compelling motivation for mechanics to embrace the task. Few, if any, working cheats consider the Center Deal much more than a curiosity. Magicians have been at least as shortsighted in their appreciation of the move. The most obvious task to which the Center Deal can be applied is as a substitute for the Side Steal (to which it is related) or the Pass, in their capacities as Controls (see my "Middle Deal Control Swindle," Apocalypse, Vol. 18, No. 7, July 1995, page 2521; and The Magical Record and Thoughts of Wesley James, page 73). This lack of perceptive-ness is somewhat difficult to fathom, as moving a card from the center to the top or bottom of the deck typifies what Centers, the Pass and the Side Steal can do. If that isn't enough, the Center Deal can be harnessed into a role as part of a Botop-like Change (I call it "The Centop Change"). A One-Handed Center can be combined with Irv Weiner's "Fake Insertion" technique (Hugard's Magic Monthly, titled "Control of One Card to the Top," Vol. XV, No. 6, November 1957, page 67) to produce an even more convincing version of that move. More starkly, the One-Handed Center can be employed to produce a Center Curry Change or a Center Kardyro Kard Change (see M-U-M, Vol. 50, No. 10, March 1961, page 603; or Kardyros Kard Change Supreme, 1962). The idea should become clear; once you have the ball, you can run with it. To prove this point, let me interrupt this discussion briefly to insert one interesting application...

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